The Bally Scribe: from 1951 to now
Teo van den Broeke explores the story of Bally’s expertly crafted Scribe dress shoe collection, from its inception to the Autumn Winter 18 capsule collection
The old adage goes that you can judge the mettle of a man by the shoes he’s wearing on his feet. In the case of Bally’s Scribe collection, there isn’t a pair which would make us think anything less than good thoughts about their wearer. Introduced by the Swiss footwear brand in 1951 to celebrate its centenary, the name of the collection is taken from the Hotel Scribe in Paris – the 9th-arrondisement bolthole in which Max, the grandson of the company’s founder Carl Franz Bally, used to stay. Also the favoured Parisian base of countless other luminaries, including Josephine Baker, George Orwell and the Lumière brothers (who unveiled their first cinematic invention at the hotel in 1895), the Scribe is a suitably brilliant namesake for this very special collection of shoes.
Though Bally has long been renowned for creating ultra-high-quality, timelessly stylish shoes, the Scribe collection raised the stakes for the company when it was introduced. With a focus on elegant dress styles, all of which come finished to the highest possible standards, the soles of all Scribe shoes – from loafers and Oxfords, to Chelsea boots and Derbies – are Goodyear-welted, ensuring shape retention and comfort. What’s more, each pair of shoes comes padded with an internal cork insole, designed to adapt to the shape of the wearer’s foot. And as if that wasn’t enough, each upper of every shoe is made from the highest quality calf leather and hand-polished to achieve a lustrous shine.
It’s the last (the wooden cobbler's instrument shaped like a foot) used to make the Scribe shoes, however, which really sets the collection apart. Featuring a high arch, an elegantly squared-off toe and a sculpted upper, in 2015 the design of the last was updated for the first time since the style’s inception in order to give the shoes in the collection a more streamlined, contemporary shape. In the same year, an innovative ultra-light take on the Goodyear-constructed sole was introduced to all the shoes in the collection. Made from a rubber and ethylene-vinyl-acetate mix, the soles are both durable and feather-light, coming in, as they do, at around half the weight of a regular rubber sole. What’s more, they’re water-resistant, making all the shoes in the Scribe collection perfect for UK wear.
In addition to the Scribe core collection, each season Bally introduces a special Scribe capsule, and for AW18 it’s all about returning to the brand’s Swiss roots. Titled Lugano, the capsule includes three new styles designed specifically for the mountainous terrain around the small Swiss city from which it takes its name. Each pair of shoes is crafted from hand-dyed and polished French calf leather, while the soles of each pair are rubber injected to add extra grip. What’s more, the design of each of the three styles in the collection is ultra-chunky, making the shoes ideal for the Alpine environment for which they’ve been designed. My personal favourite is the correspondent suede and leather lace-up boot, which fits neatly with this season’s hiking trend.
Once you have a pair you’ll find yourself wearing your new Bally Scribes everyday and in this case you might well be rambling in them too…